There is a general feeling about Pauline introductions that if you’ve read one you’ve read them all. However, in seminary I was confronted with an amazing fact—Paul is awesome and doesn’t waste words. Often times, his introductions serve to build up his readers before he brings a spiritual smackdown (look ahead to verses 10 & 11). In the first four verses, Paul is already starting to correct the view of who God is, what He has done, and what we should do about it.
As usual, when I step into a new book I love to step over to YouTube to see if the Bible Project guys have a video. This is a lot better than reading a boring ol’ introduction in a study Bible.
God is unlike any other gods. As we consider the world in which Paul’s young disciple, Titus, lived and worked, it was a world of confusion about religion, truth, and practice. Moreover, Cretan’s were not known for their virtue. Soon after hearing the Gospel they were combining the religion of their culture into their Christianity. There were counterfeit leaders in this church proclaiming a defiled truth. If truth leads to godliness (1), then untruth leads to sin. The truth of God’s Word must be the standard in the life of a believer, lest we deform our worship and defame God. Right belief leads to right action—in fancier words—orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy.
What truth is Paul stating to correct falsehood? 1. We have the assured hope of eternal life through Christ (2a). 2. God is completely unlike the Roman gods who were flippant, jealous, manipulative, and petty (2b). 3. God has made promises that He will keep. His past faithfulness is a pattern and promise that He will do that which remains unfinished (2c–3). This is only an introduction so he doesn’t expand these ideas yet, but we can see the foundation he is laying. Titus’ primary job will be to establish leaders who are grounded in these truths and can combat the counterfeit leaders.
How does this apply to us? The main principle that is primary to God’s Word is that truth leads to godliness. When the church bends to the will of culture, bad things happen and the slimy tentacles of sin start to take hold. We see this in many ways. We are in a culture of identity crisis, nobody knows who they are or what they’re supposed to do. Thought leaders proclaim the death of God and religion because of science. Every four years our nation (and churches) divide left and right based on who people believe to be the best savior of our nation. Even sports have a way of segregating communities—how many of you reading this would love to have a pastor who was a die-hard Duke or University of Louisville fan?
The church needs leaders grounded in truth who practice righteousness. These two ideas are inseparable!
What cultural ideas have you adopted into your Christian faith? For example: How has science challenged your view of God? What does it mean to “love your neighbor” when you are considered a bigot for not accepting their way of life? Has there been a time when a sports win or loss negatively affected how you spoke to your family or community? Has your politics ever gotten in the way of relationships?
How does God’s truth change how we should respond in each of these areas and how have you seen the Church (hopefully not CPC, but the universal Church) bow down to cultural pressure?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate